While the latest smartphones can manage some pretty impressive portrait photos, the artificial background blur generated by your phone's 'portrait mode' doesn't compare to the background separation you can achieve with a dedicated DSLR or mirrorless camera and a proper lens. If you're looking to start shooting high-quality portraits, thankfully, there's no shortage of excellent cameras to suit every budget and experience level. If you're just getting started, you should know that lighting, lenses, and composition will matter just as much, if not more than, the camera body you use. That means that the best camera for portrait photography will be the one that's most easily available to you, so you can get out and start practicing sooner.
While a full-frame camera will make it easier to get the background blur and bokeh favored by portrait photographers, an APS-C or even Micro Four Thirds option with the right lens can still get you fantastic results. Although a high megapixel count is great if you're making prints, don't put too much stock in how many megapixels your camera has—most modern digital cameras offer more than enough to capture fine detail, especially for online sharing.
Having said all that, we've bought and tested over 75 cameras, and below we've narrowed down the best cameras for portraits, so you don't have to. If you're looking for more well-rounded options for different kinds of photography, check out our best cameras for photography article instead. If you have a preference between DSLR and mirrorless, you can see the best DSLR cameras and the best mirrorless cameras, respectively. If this is your first camera, you might also want to check out our best cameras for beginners.
Though it might be overkill for some, the Sony α7 IV is one of the best enthusiast cameras on the market. With a 33-megapixel full-frame sensor, it's a great choice for high-quality portrait work, whether you're making prints or sharing your work online. The camera's also very well-built, has a ton of customization options, and comes with dual SD card slots if you prefer to have a running backup, not to mention a fantastic autofocus system with sophisticated eye AF for precise focusing.
There are a plethora of third-party lens options available, along with plenty of excellent native lenses from Sony, giving you many options to choose from for portrait work. The Sony FE 85mm f/1.8 offers a lot of value if you're looking at native lenses, but don't overlook third-party options from manufacturers like Tamron or Sigma. Overall, it's a fantastic hybrid camera, but if you're more strictly shooting portraits, the Sony α7 III still offers excellent photography performance at a lower price point, though it has a lower-resolution sensor and uses an older version of Sony's AF system.
For most people, the Canon EOS R will be a great deal for portraits. Canon's first full-frame mirrorless camera, the EOS R isn't as well-rounded as newer models like the Canon EOS R5 or the Canon EOS R6; however, at this price point, it's a fantastic option for portrait photography. Borrowing the same high-resolution 30-megapixel sensor used by longtime pro favorite, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, it can take excellent-quality photos with plenty of leeway for edits and cropping, if needed. It handles incredibly well, has a high-res EVF and intuitive controls, on top of a great battery life.
The best portrait lenses for Canon's RF-mount can be pricy, like the Canon RF 85mm f/1.2 L USM, but you can also find more affordable options, like the Canon RF 85mm F2 Macro IS STM Lens. Even better for those upgrading from a Canon DSLR: Canon's EF-EOS R adapter can adapt EF lenses nearly flawlessly, meaning you can easily use all your favorite Canon EF glass with the EOS R. One thing you do lose out on versus the Sony above is in-body image stabilization, which can come in handy when shooting portraits handheld in trickier lighting conditions. The autofocus is also a little more reliable on the Sony camera. Still, the EOS R is an excellent choice for portraits at this price point.
Speaking of Canon DSLRs, the Canon EOS 90D is our top mid-range pick for portrait photography. Unlike the picks above, it uses an APS-C sensor but has a high resolution to capture fine detail. Because it's a DSLR, you don't get to preview your images in real-time, but you get an unfiltered view of your subject and a battery life that blows mirrorless competitors out of the water. Add in a very solid autofocus system with eye detection in live view mode, and you've got a camera that's well-equipped for all kinds of portraits.
Canon's EF-S mount also has a ton of native lens options to choose from, including full-frame EF lenses. Some of these are hard to beat for the price, too, like the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8, which is one of the best bang-for-your-buck lenses out there. With its 80mm equivalent on the 90D's crop sensor, it makes for a great budget portrait lens. There are plenty of higher-end options, including solid third-party lenses from Sigma and Tamron. Overall, it's a great camera for portrait photos if you don't want to spend a fortune but still want some premium features like weather sealing and eye AF.
If you're on a tighter budget, the Sony α6400 is a great mirrorless option to get you started in portrait photography. It's a relatively portable crop-sensor camera with a sturdy build and a high-resolution APS-C sensor. Its ergonomics pale compared to the Canon EOS 90D, but some people may find it's worth the trade-off for added portability. It has tons of customization options to tailor the controls to your preference.
The best part is that it uses the same lens mount as the higher-end Sony α7 IV, so you'll have access to the same stable of great lens options, including both full-frame FE lenses and crop sensor E lenses. The kit lens is fine to cut your teeth on if you're just starting, but a lens like the Sigma 56mm f/1.4 DC DN is an excellent third-party option for portraits if you outgrow the kit lens, though there are plenty of other options at different price points, as well. On top of that, you have Sony's ever-reliable autofocusing, making this a versatile camera that won't break the bank.
If you're looking for a cheap dedicated camera for portraits, the Canon EOS Rebel T7 / EOS 2000D is about as cheap as it gets, short of buying from the used market. It's an incredibly simple DSLR with an easy-to-use interface and minimal physical controls. You won't find extra features like weather-sealing or even a tilting screen here, but it has a solid 24-megapixel sensor that, paired with a decent lens, can get you great results on a budget. Just like the Canon EOS 90D, you can find some great-value EF lenses that'll do the trick.
If you're willing to stretch your budget a little, the slightly pricier Canon EOS Rebel SL3 or Nikon D3500 are great options with better processors and sturdier builds. The Nikon even has a built-in Guide Mode to walk novice users through the basics of photography. If your budget is tight, or you want to put more of it towards lenses, the T7 is an accessible camera that makes for a good starting point for "proper" photography.
Feb 14, 2023: Replaced the Nikon D5600 with the Sony a6400 as the 'Best Budget Camera For Portraits' and added the Canon EOS Rebel T7 / EOS 2000D as the 'Best Cheap Camera For Portraits'.
Dec 16, 2022: Reviewed picks for accuracy and clarity; no change to recommendations.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best cameras for portrait photography for most people to buy, according to their budget. We factor in the price, feedback from our visitors, and availability (no cameras that are difficult to find or almost out of stock in the U.S.).
If you'd like to choose for yourself, here's the list of all our camera reviews. Be careful not to get caught up in the details. There is no single perfect camera. Personal taste, ergonomic preferences, and shooting habits will matter more in your selection.